Virtual pals meet & get chatty

Shivashankar, who heads the club, recently hosted a discussion on biographies at Semmozhi Poonga.

Published: 24th November 2016 05:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th November 2016 05:57 AM   |  A+A-


From top: people at the book meet up, quora meet up and the weirdo meet up

Express News Service

Like-minded people on social media have a lot to discuss. Taking their interests out in the real world, they organise meet ups at public places frequently.Book lovers, foodies, pet owners, movie buffs, even those facing an existential crisis...all get together in a group to talk and bond

CHENNAI: With everyone having access to social media, getting connected with people couldn't have been easier. Want to talk to someone? Send him/her a message on Facebook, WhatsApp, or Twitter. Want to meet someone virtually? Start Skyping. As accessibility increases, a few people in the city, however, have come up with different, informal ways of getting in touch with more like-minded people. Social gatherings of strangers who happen to share the same opinion now have the option of choosing over a mélange of meet-ups spearheaded by much of the younger generation. City Express identifies many such meet-ups that are brewing in our city.

Realising there were a lot of book lovers in the city, a discussion between Nambirajan Vananamalai, Shreedhar Iyengar and Raunak Jhawar in 2010 paved way for their first book club meet at Cha Bar, The Oxford Bookstore in Chennai. From discussing their favourite authors to what makes a good book, the book club, now titled ‘We Read Therefore We Are’ continues to have their sessions open to other book enthusiasts every month.

Shivashankar, who heads the club, recently hosted a discussion on biographies at Semmozhi Poonga. From talking about the marvelous story of Australian criminal-turned-writer Shantaram to the journey behind the man who spearheaded the construction of the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, their discussions are light, simple, and straight from the heart. “We have people from all walks of life who have liked a book and want to talk about it. We may or may not have met before but our fondness for books and a particular style of writing brings us close,” he says.

Treading on a similar note, ever heard of Quora meet-ups? After interacting on the popular discussion site, few known Quoarans decided to take the interaction from the virtual world into the real world, discussing a range of topics as opposed to sticking to one. Taking place every third Sunday of the month at Semmozhi Poonga, the meet-ups again have no age limit or criteria to join in. “I’m the youngest and I’ve met all kinds of people. We discuss topics like feminism, sometimes politics, movies, certain books maybe, and other personalities. Since we interact in a public park, sometimes we even have people joining us. We’re usually around 40-50 of us sitting on the grass and having an open mic-esque evening,” says 17-year-old Vignesh, one of the Quoarans.

Focusing on the existential crisis youngsters probably face, in addition to understanding that growing up and being an independent adult can be difficult, Sehaj Sahni, who runs the monthly Young Weirdos Meet-up at his cafe Urban Desi House, Thoraipakkam, is all for holding non-preachy informal talks. After leaving his lucrative job at the IT industry, Sehaj decided to work on a youth project with an aim to bring three elements under the same roof — youth, discussion and a cup of tea. Having completed five editions of the meet-up in 10 months, Sehaj believes that such micro-events can leave a good impact. “You see competition everywhere – in schools, colleges, work, etc. There's no collaboration.

You get involved in that race and it's difficult to get out,” he points out.  Bearing this in mind, the Young Weirdos Meet-up usually comprises of an eclectic bunch of vloggers, bloggers, artists, students, and even IT professionals. “There's no theme. It began as an experimental meet-up with people talking their minds or sharing their knowledge. Now we see the same people connecting even after the meet-up. Like-minded people connecting, helping each other out, sharing similar philosophies,” he adds.
Some meet-ups are also social media-driven, where people who have been following each other on Twitter for a long time finally decide to meet. Aptly titled ‘Tweet-up’, known Twitter handles from the city meet at a cafe or a bar. Sometimes people find love, friendship or future colleagues! “I used to be a part of these Tweet-ups before. In fact some of my best friends came out of such meetings. There’s always this stigma around wanting to make friends and we’re so self-absorbed, end up getting stuck in a rut. This changes when you find more like-minded people over social media,” explains Vaishnavi Prasad, who also frequents Cosplay and Boardgame meet-ups.

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